Danish, Danish (and only Danish) Music Day!

Tomorrow, 27 October 2016, is the last Thursday of the month of October which means that it is – selvfølgelig! – “Spil Dansk” (Play Danish Music) Day! 🙂

So don’t be suprised if the only music you hear on Danish state radio is by Danish groups (some of which also sing in English), Danish songwriters, Danish producers. Anything that has even remotely been touched by the red and white flag counts! But if you’re interested in Hit Lists and what you’d normally expect to hear around these parts – and what people actually buy and add to their collections – then take a look at Hitlisten.nu where you’ll find every official Danish list. There are the usual American artists, as you would expect, but also Danish artists like Lukas Graham, Volbeat and Rasmus Seebach are still in there. On a side note, Hitlisten’s info on the increasing number of vinyl records sold is rather interesting for an old, nostalgic lady like myself 😉

One of the more avant garde and original Danish artists right now is Bisse, who has taken the reviewers and the indie fans by storm. In Denmark, albums are given marks (or hearts) out of six. Here’s his own song, where he gives, “Seks hjerter til livet” – “Six hearts to Life”.  Check out his album “Højlandet” which got 5/6 stars across the board from Danish reviewers. Bisse sings in Danish and you can hear him on soundcloud here.

And what do I currently have on my turntable? Agnes Obel. I’ve never really been a huge fan of her, but I love, love, love her latest album, “Citizen of Glass”! Agnes sings in English – here’s the song “Familiar” from the new album. And, although she has been settled in Germany for a few years, it’s kind of cool that she was born around the corner from us and was a former pupil at my DD14’s school (dear daughter, aged 14)…

But while we’re at it…let’s not forget one of our old favourites from Marvelous Mosell (with a teeny bit of help from Chic and Sister Sledge…) which contains the immortal lyrics:

Der var både bajere og hash,

men jeg sagde: Stik mig bare en

kærnemælk i et snavset glas

med et sugerør i

og gør det i en fart, for jeg er sørme tørstig!”

“There was beer and hash

but I said: Give me some

buttermilk in a dirty glass

with a straw, and do it nifty

‘cos I’m really thirsty” 😉

What’s not to love?!

Happy ‘Spil Dansk‘ Day! Put on those dancing shoes and remember to turn it up to 11! But don’t forget to get out and hear music live… Like Johan, from my very favourite Danish band Magtens Korridorer, you’ll probably be swept off your feet! 😉

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Diane 🙂


Off to Danish church? Don't forget your smartphone!

One of the things I love  about Denmark (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…) is the mixture of new and old. On the face of it, Denmark is a liberal, modern, forward thinking country. When you scratch the surface, you discover the Danes’ deeply ingrained love of traditions. This morning I saw the new/old combo working in reverse.

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We were at church for a Harvest service…

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It was very traditional, so there were all the usual elements you’d expect. Beautiful displays at the church entrance.

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Inside the church there were candles and flower/grain decorations at the end of every pew… (Yes, there we go again with those ubiquitous candles!)

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When I went to church as a child in Scotland (on a side note, the Danish and Scottish church are very similar: they are both Lutheran), a large wooden plate would be passed around  halfway through the service at Collection time. You would put in your coins as it was handed along the pew. Ching, ching! Or a little brown envelope containing your donation. When the plate made it to the other end of the pew, it was then handed to the first person in the pew behind, and off it went again. And so on and so forth. Fast forward to 2016… Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 These days you can make a donation on the way in, or on the way out. In our church, the collection box is fixed to the end of the first pew.

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Oh, but hang on a minute, we’re in Denmark, right? Where most people don’t carry small change or banknotes. You see, we hardly ever use cash: we use our bank cards or our phones to pay for things. Remember my post from 2014? Cash ain’t King when you don’t have a Crown? Never fear! The church has thought of everything! Did you notice the little sticker above the collection box? With the ‘Mobile Pay’ or ‘Swipp’ app on your smartphone, you simply type in your donation and press send.

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And, voilà, it’s done! No more fiddling around, desperately looking for coins underneath the sofa cushions or in your Dad’s coat pockets, before heading out to church. Less risk for the church of having the collection box stolen.

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Hallelujah! Have a super Sunday!

Diane 🙂

 

 

 

 


The old Danish post service you know… Just three times more expensive!

 

Regular readers, from my first post here back in September 2010 (which was – selvfølgelig – about farts“Mind your language!”) will know that I am in l-o-v-e with Denmark and those crazy Danes! (I’m Scottish but I felt like I had finally come home when I moved here to Copenhagen in 1998.) I love the traditions, the humour, the contrasts, the people. There is only one thing that gets my goat up (okay then, two – if we count the blatant Danish overuse of the ‘F’ word – “I swear I heart Denmark!“). And that, dear readers, is the Danish postal service! Boo! Hiss! 😉

Don’t get me wrong. I love our postmen (and especially our very nice parcel lady, with whom I always have a long chat).

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But the cost of sending a letter? Daylight robbery! I’ve growled before about price increases (“Pass the smelling salts, I’m buying Danish stamps“) but even I couldn’t foresee this new craziness. Here are the current options if you want to send a letter or a greetings card to a friend. I know I’ve said it before, but even Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask – ha!

Brev (letter) – for letters within Denmark, delivery takes up to 5 days – cost: 8 Danish crowns (roughly USD 1.20 or UK£0.91). Keep in mind that not all postboxes are emptied every day, so it may take even longer than 5 days to arrive…

Quickbrev (quick letter) – next day delivery – cost: 27 Danish crowns (roughly USD 4.07 or UK£3.06). Oh, and you can’t just pop a Quickbrev in the postbox. You have to physically hand it in to the post office! I kid you not. Honestly, it would be funny if it wasn’t true!

And if you want to send a birthday card to a friend outside of Denmark, for example, Europe? That costs 25 Danish crowns (roughly USD 3.77 or UK£2.83). You can use a postbox or hand them in to the post office… But, again, keep in mind that not all postboxes are emptied every day.

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PostDanmark is now part of nordic PostNord – a Swedish Danish conglomerate. Bringing with it a colour change from the traditional red to blue. So all post bikes, vans, uniforms, logos etc are now blue. But, they assure us, postboxes will stay red. Hmm, let’s see what happens… And the snappy marketing line they have come up with? “Post du kender. Bare blå.” “The post service you know. Just in blue.” Perhaps they should have said. “The old post service you know. Just three times more expensive!”?

Funnily enough, our neighbours the Swedes, also served by PostNord, continue to enjoy normal postal rates. How on earth did they manage that? Answers on a postcard, please! Oh, wait, don’t bother. Just send me an email instead…

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


Gotta catch 'em all! Food waste…GO!

While others around the world are trying to ‘catch ’em all, here in Denmark I’m invariably trying to catch…the best food bag! 😉

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Forget Team Mystic, I’m on Team Fight-Against-Food-Waste. There are several apps in Denmark which connect socially responsible food stores and restaurants with overstocks to hungry (and canny…) customers who enjoy getting a bargain. My favourite is TGTG (Too Good To Go) which is available for Apple and Android. The app also covers the UK and Germany.

Once you are logged in, you can search on a map, or search by offers which are nearest/cheapest/closing soon. The offers mainly fall in to two categories. Restaurants: where they provide you with a box and you fill up on sushi/whatever they have in their buffet. Bakers: where they provide you with a ‘magic bag’. Usually a mixture of bread, bread rolls, cake and Danish pastries.

As regular readers will know, I just l-o-v-e Danish bread and pastries (did you miss my 6 part run down on Danish pastries? go catch it here!) So I’ve – selvfølgelig – been trying what bakers are offering. Here you go. All fresh. All food that would, otherwise, end up in the bottom of a dumpster at the end of the day.

This entire bag, from a baker in Kongens Lyngby, cost 25 Danish crowns (roughly USD 3.75 or UK £2.85). Two loaves of bread, one ham and cheese sandwich, a couple of te birkes, a couple of kanelsnegle and about 10 assorted rolls.

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This entire bag, from a baker in Charlottenlund, cost 30 Danish crowns (roughly USD 4.50 or UK £3.40). One loaf, one loaf of ryebread, three te birkes, two kanelsnegle, 4 teboller, a pizza snail and two sausage rolls.

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There was so much food in these bags that we actually ended up putting half of it in the freezer. To give you some perspective on price, one loaf of bread at the baker costs roughly 30 Danish crowns. Our next stop will be trying out some sushi…

What can I say but yum, yum, yum – everyone on Team Fight-Against-Food-Waste wins!

GO! Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂


Invasion of the kids with caps…

First there was just one or two. You didn’t notice them really. Just random dots on the landscape. Then they started popping up in the train and bus. They began to multiply. Huddled together in groups on street corners. In school halls, department stores and on the street. And – selvfølgelig – all over my Facebook feed.

What is this invasion? It’s the kids with caps!

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School’s out for summer and – for third year High School students – school is out for ever! 😄 Hence the graduation caps. Which, once it is placed on their head, doesn’t seem to leave said head for weeks and weeks… You must also remember that, here in Denmark, there is no such thing as school uniform. So lots of kids wearing the same item is a rather special sight. There was even one down at my bathing bridge this morning…

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And let’s not forget the families you will see walking around town, carrying baskets filled with flags and champagne. On their way to celebrate the big moment with their son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, sibling, nephew or niece…

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And notice how those crazy (but lovable) Danes wait patiently for the Green Man before they cross the road. Ten out of ten for good behaviour! 😄

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The shops are filled with graduation greeting cards and lots of ‘cap’ stickers, cocktail sticks and gift ribbon. Buy, buy, buy!

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But it’s not only students who are getting in on the act. Even the horse statue in the window of a local bar was wearing a graduation cap this morning!

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Oh well, you know what they say. If the cap fits, wear it..?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :mrgreen:


Witches and Midsummer on Thursday!

I spotted witches in the supermarket today…which is a sure sign that we are counting down to Sankt Hans Aften! 😉

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What is it? A huge event on the Danish social calendar – the night where you go out and celebrate St John’s Eve, probably better known as…midsummer! It falls on 23 June – which this year is Thursday.  The Danes gather around bonfires, often topped with effigies of witches – the idea being to send them off to North Germany. There are bonfires everywhere. All along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Normally around 9.30pm or 10pm, when it’s still light.

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But, hey, let’s backtrack a little! The evening usually starts with people gathering – perhaps with a picnic – down at the beach or in the forest. The evening officially starts with a short Sankt Hans Tale or “Bål Tale” (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or ‘personality’. And then the singing can start. Sometimes with live music from an orchestra or band. And, if you’re very lucky, a songsheet, so you can join in the singalong! 🙂

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You’ll be singing Midsommervisen. A.k.a. Vi elsker vort land. “We love our country.” Last year we also sang I Danmark er jeg født (“In Denmark I was born”) and Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) which you might recognise as the Danish national anthem.

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Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect, starting with the traditional version of Midsommervisen

https://youtu.be/ojqvlQQBPE8

…and here’s the modern version by Shubidua.

https://youtu.be/LHTdo1Q6eWU

Whichever version you prefer, sing up, take care and have a great night. And watch out for those low flying witches overhead…

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Diane 🙂


What does that sign mean? Beats me! (Badum tish!)

[Today’s post is especially for my DBB (Dear Big Brother) in Scotland.]

I got into the Quiet Zone compartment of an S-train last week when this sign caught my eye…

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I had to take a closer look. No, my eyes didn’t deceive me. No drums allowed? Say what?!

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It turns out – selvfølgelig – that those crazy Danes (or should I say some rather crazy, clever people at DSB) came up with this great sign to make us look twice. And to reinforce the idea of respecting the silence. I’m sure you’ve been in that position yourself – sitting next to someone with [excuse my French] crappy earbuds when you can hear every. single. pesky. boom. boom. schack. noise that comes out of their ears? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! I’m all for loud music (I turn mine up to 11) but, please, please, people…get some decent headphones!!!

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So although you are very welcome to bring your bike on the train (as I regularly do), please leave your drumset and your crappy earbuds at home! 😉

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Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


Star Wars and Danish Liberation Day

If you’re out and about in Denmark today, you’ll notice that the buses, official buildings and private individuals are flying the Danish flag today: Dannebrog (incidentally, the oldest national flag in the world).

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As regular readers will know, the thing I love about living among those crazy Danes is all the different traditions. Denmark is, on the face of it, a very modern country, but they have more holidays and traditions than you can stick a very big stick at. Hooray! Now, usually these special days are accompanied by a traditional Danish lunch (Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, etc), a Danish pastry (Fastelavnsboller for carnival) or bread roll (Bededag), etc.  Something edible. (More often than not washed down with a cold beer and a small snaps…)

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But Danmarks Befrielsesdag – Danish Liberation day – is marked in an entirely different way. The Germans surrendered on the Fourth of May 1945, and this message was brought to the Danes in a BBC radio broadcast at 8.36pm. (The surrender officially came into force the next morning, the Fifth of May 1945.) So many Danes will mark the occasion tonight by putting candles in their window. Just as they did on that night in 1945, when they were finally able to take down their blackout curtains (and burnt them in bonfires out on the streets) and placed candles there instead. A very beautiful and rather moving tradition that we also follow in our family.

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Happy Danish Liberation Day. May the force be with you!

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Diane 🙂

 

 


Attention! It's Ascension!

Hot on the heels of Big Prayer Day, I bring you yet another public service announcement…

This Thursday, 5 May 2016, we have yet another religious holiday where Denmark will basically be closed for business. What’s the occasion this time? Kristi Himmelfart. Literally, Christ’s Sky Flight. Or Ascension, as is the more boring name in English. Oh, yes, I may have lived in Copenhagen for 18 years but the Danish word ‘fart‘ still brings out the child in me! Don’t you just love the elevator buttons in Danish stations..? 😉

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But, as usual, I digress! Attention! Where were we? Ascension. Oh yes, Thursday is closed and Danish schools make ‘a bridge’ for this particular holiday and so schools will also be closed on Friday 6 May. But most workplaces will be open for business as usual.

And what do the Danes do for Ascension? Just like our last holiday (Big Prayer Day), it’s high season for confirmations, a spot of gardening and – if the Danish weather gods are with us – enjoying some hot and sunny weather. So far we have had a very cold spring. As regular readers will know, I’m a winterbather, and our sea temperature has been stuck on 5c/41f for weeks and weeks… Cheers with a hot cuppa!

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Have a great Kristi Himmelfart!

Diane 🙂

 


Big Prayer Day? Time for big rolls!

With Easter behind us, we are counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar. This Friday, 22 April, is Stor Bededag. ’Big Prayer Day’! Those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year. So they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter and – voilà – Stor Bededag was born. It’s an official holiday so Denmark will be ‘closed’ on Friday, and the kids are off school. It’s time to get out in the garden, work on a DIY project, make a trip to Tivoli Gardens or just chill at home. And eat big rolls! (More on that later in this post.) But many Danes will make a day trip to Sweden or Germany, where it’s business as usual and cash registers will be working overtime.

Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray.  And, though I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings and weddings), a lot of Danes will be attending church this Friday.  Not for regular church services but for confirmation ceremonies. Which was actually the case for us last year, when it was our son’s turn to go through this very traditional Danish rite of passage…

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Want to know more about Danish confirmation and the traditional “Blue Monday” that follows it?  Then go read my post “When Blue Monday isn’t New Order!”

But the biggest tradition associated with Stor Bededag is eating hveder on Thursday night.  What are hveder?  Large, fluffy, pale, basic white bread rolls which you halve, toast and butter.  You’ll find them on sale at the bakers but be warned that – despite their modest ingredients – they don’t come cheap!

I gave up queuing for them at the bakers years ago and just buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket.  Best enjoyed warm with a nice cuppa!

After you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel).  You don’t live near Kastellet?  Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel…  (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen. Oh! And let’s not forget the third season of Broen/Bron/The Bridge 😉

Picnic på Kastellet” (Picnic at the Citadel).

And me? I’m praying for some warmer weather. It has been exceptionally chilly (not to mention wet and windy) so far this spring, so we’re still waiting for everything to start blooming.

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God Stor Bededag!

Diane :)


Getting ready for Easter

If you live here in Denmark you’ll have noticed that the Danes are getting ready for Easter. They celebrate in big style, and the country will basically shut down tonight, Wednesday.  Despite being very low-key about religion, most of Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  So although you may find the occasional food store open, schools are closed, as are council offices and most businesses. Plus libraries and post offices (don’t expect to receive mail or parcels).  Museums, your local swimming pool and fitness club may have special opening hours. Buses and trains may be running on ‘holiday’ schedules. Check before you head out!  😉

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Today – Wednesday – is the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink – not a Christmas gift in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday). Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

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And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays? Well, they don’t really head for church – they save that for Christmas. No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends. To get out in the garden. And get the garden furniture out (if you didn’t do it when spring officially started in Denmark on 1 March). Do some DIY. Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather! Here’s my DS16, many years ago, at our Swedish cabin, about to dig into some Easter chocolate…

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Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay. Lots of eating and drinking. So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials. And what do the Danes eat? Lamb selvfølgelig. Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps. And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork). One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look herefor more about them.

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Get them while they’re hot!

There’ll be lots of cheese. Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs. Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer! My recipe is here.

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And now? Let us pray. And hope the Danish weather gods are with us!

Skål! God Påske!

And if you are bored over Easter, then why not enjoy a good book. My cozy crime novel, set in Denmark, is finally here! “Death Comes to Strandvig” is now available on amazon – for less than the price of a cup of coffee! Links here to the international store and the UK store. Set in a small Danish town, there is plenty of hygge, a lot of winterbathing, traditional Danish food, iconic Scandinavian design, terrible jokes, a little romance and – selvfølgelig – a dead body! 😉

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I hope you enjoy it!

Diane  🙂


Fastelavn (Danish Carnival) is fast approaching!

If you’ve walked past the window of a Danish baker’s shop recently, then you’ll already know that Fastelavn is fast approaching…

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Because the first fastelavnsboller made their appearance just as soon as Christmas was over and the New Year got underway! ;)  This year it will be celebrated on Sunday (7 February 2016).

So what’s fastelavn?  Danish carnival.  Nothing to do with the one in Rio.  I mean, honestly, would you want to dance around the cobbled streets, half-naked, peely-wally white, often in sub-zero temperatures? I think not. (Said the winter bather…)  If you want the whole historical background of the Danish festival, I suggest you go google or take a peek at Wikipedia.

Here’s what I think you need to know:

It’s celebrated seven weeks before Easter Sunday (anytime from the beginning of February til late March). For small kids, it’s the highlight of the year (aside from Christmas) – it’s basically the Danish equivalent of Halloween. Kids wear fancy dress (which, for the under 6s, is invariably a superhero or something pink and princessy).

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The kids make (or buy or receive) a fastelavnsris. Don’t despair if you don’t know what that is because I’ll be showing you how to make one of those in my next post!

You eat special fastelavnsboller! Lots of them!

There are tons of parties where the kids get a chance to slåkatten af tønden (literally ‘hit the cat out of the barrel’). Schools and kindergartens devote a whole day to the celebrations. And if your child goes to scouts or football practice, there will also be a party organised there. Not to mention events organised by public libraries, museums, local businesses and supermarkets… A tønde (large barrel, similar to a piñata) is filled with sweets and fruit. Much more politically correct than filling it with live cats, as they used to do up until the early 1800s! The barrel is then strung up and the kids take it in turns to whack it with a bat.

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The boy or girl who knocks out the bottom of the barrel is crowned as Kattedronningen (the Queen of the Cats). The person who smashes the very last piece of the barrel is crowned Kattekongen (the King of the Cats). A huge honour. You get to wear a little golden crown for your efforts. And be the envy of your friends for years afterwards.

But I digress!  Let’s get back to those buns!  We made our own fastelavnsboller last year. Check out these homemade beauties! Ready to have a go?


We based ours on Arla’s recipe. You’ll need:

  • an 8g sachet of dry yeast (or 50g pack of fresh yeast)
  • 100mls or 1 decilitre milk
  • 125g butter or Kærgården
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • about 375g of plain flour (hvedemel) – about 625mls or 6¼ deciltres.

 

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  It’s easiest to use a mixer (dough hook) but you can do it by hand if you want the upper arm exercise.  When it all comes together, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for about 45 mins.

Meanwhile prepare the filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 200mls or 2 decilitres milk
  • 1½ tablespoons of flour
  • a tablespoon of vanilla sugar

 

Put everything into a little saucepan and whisk over a high heat until the mixture comes to the boil.  Turn down the heat, keep whisking for about 5 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

When you’re bun dough is ready, roll it out on to a floured worktop and try and get it into a large rectangle.  You are aiming to cut out around 12 squares, but don’t get too perfectionist…

Bake in a preheated oven at 225c (450f) for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to get too dark.  Remove from the oven and cool before topping them with some icing or a dusting of icing sugar. Though if you want to top them with a piece of pålægschokolade (piece of thin breakfast chocolate), do it while they’re still hot!

When you’re ready to eat the fastelavnsboller, cut them horizontally and put in a (very l-a-r-g-e) dollop of whipped cream…

 

Velbekomme!

And remember to check back here later this week when I’ll be showing you how to make the other Danish Carnival essential – the Fastelavnsris!

Diane 🙂


Election time – again! Left. Right. Left, left, right!

Dear Readers

Just taking a quick break from bumping off a nasty character – Col. Mustard, in the Library, with lead piping (The Mystery of the Missing Blogger…) – to let you know that this morning the Danish PM, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, announced a general election for 18 June 2015. Which meant that – selvfølgelig – by lunchtime, the scary faces were back on the streets! 😉

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Now, as any Dane will tell you, there are a myriad of Danish political parties, and choosing where to put your ‘x’ can be confusing. So, to give you the gist of things, here’s a post I wrote for the local elections back in November 2013.  Political parties seem to pop up like mushrooms here (Just don’t mention the ‘Priest’s Penis’!) and this time round is no exception. New kid on the polticial chopping block is Alternativet (Å) who are a left wing ‘green’ party.

Happy voting!

Me? I’m already dreading the valgflæsk but looking forward to a very large portion of stegtflæsk on the evening of Thursday 18 June!

Diane 🙂

[FIRST PUBLISHED 28 OCTOBER 2013]

There are Danish local and regional elections coming up on 19 November.  (KV13 – for the media savvy.)  And how do I know this?  Because our local newspaper’s debate pages are suddenly full of letters from caring, would-be politicians who are up in arms about local issues.  And overnight every lamppost in Denmark has been adorned with pensive/smiling/serious/concerned faces! 

Now, I’m Scottish and have always been a socialist at heart.  (Yes, yes, I’ve heard the old joke before.  “If you’re not a socialist at 20 you don’t have a heart.  And if you’re still a socialist at 5o then you don’t have a brain!” )  So, in theory, I should be voting for the Danish party “Venstre“.  “Venstre” in Danish meaning “left”.  Um, no!

Venstre are actually one of the centre-right parties.  But a teeny wee bit more to the left than Konservative (the Conservatives).  But still right-wing, in the grand scheme of things.  Confused?  You will be!  ;)  So perhaps I should be voting for Radikale Venstre (Radical Left)?  Um no, they’re also slightly to the right!  But a lot more left than right, if you see what I mean?  If you’re an old-school socialist, then you’ll probably want Socialdemokraterne (the Social Democrats, Labour).  That’s the party who currently has Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the helm.  Yes, that Helle.  Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law and Denmark’s first female Prime Minister.

Now, with so many different parties in Denmark, it can be rather confusing working out exactly where to put your ‘X’.  But I’ll try and give you a run down of the major players and a general idea of where they stand on the left-right divide.  Though, as is often said about politicians in Denmark: Man har et standpunkt til man tager et nyt.  One has a view/stance/belief until one takes a new one  ;)

Okay, take a deep breath…

  • A – Socialdemokraterne (Social Democrats, Labour)
  • B – Radikale Venstre (centrist, Radical Left – which, despite the name, are to the right of Socialdemokraterne)
  • C – Konservative (Conservatives, Republicans)
  • F – Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist People’s Party, green party, more left-wing than Socialdemokraterne)
  • I – Liberal Alliance (Classical Liberal Party, centre-right)
  • K – Kristendemokraterne (Christian Democrats, religious conservative party)
  • O – Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party, right-wing, populist, nationalist)
  • V – Venstre (conservative-liberal, centre-right, despite their name)
  • Ø – Enhedslisten (left-wing, communist)

.

The elections take place on Tuesday 19 November and – selvfølgelig – I can’t predict which parties are going to come out on top.  But I can tell you that many people will be having “valgflæsk” (“election pork”) for dinner that night!  Yep, flæsk (fried belly pork) has become a real election night tradtion.   Why so?  Because “valgflæsk” is slang for all the lofty promises that policitians make during elections…  Want to cook up some flæsk for Election Night?  I walk you through how to do it right here.

Have a marvelous Monday – whatever you have on your plate, whatever you stand for!

Diane :)

[FIRST PUBLISHED 28 OCTOBER 2013]


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 14 December (Et barn er født)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

14 DECEMBER

Today is Sunday, the third in Advent, so this morning the kids opened their third adventsgaver

…and we lit the third candle in our adventslysdekoration

How about a bit of Danish music today?  So far you’ve heard the ‘most played’ Danish Christmas song “Jul, det’ cool!”(a rap) and another about elves (and rats), “På loftet sidder nissen…”.  So let’s look at the archetypal Danish Christmas hymn, “Et Barn er født i Bethlehem” (A child is born in Bethlehem).  It’s one of the ones our family sings when walking around the Christmas tree after dinner on 24 December, just before the presents are handed out.  And a song you’ll hear in every single nursery, school and church.  If you are lucky enough to find an available seat in the church, that is.  The Danes are notchurchgoers – unless it’s Christmas!  Yep, most Danish churches have to bring in extra folding seats, to cope with the sudden demand… ;)

Anyway, seat or no seat, you can learn the psalm in a snap because it’s so simple – each verse contains just two lines (half of one of which is repeated) and then ”Halleluja, halleluja!”.  So even if you don’t speak Danish, can’t remember the words or your eyes can’t decipher the tiny letters on the hymn sheet, you can always join in with some hale and hearty hallelujas!

et barn

I can play it on the piano but, instead of torturing you with my own rendition, here it is, sung by Dario Campeotto….

If you want to have a go at singing it yourself, then go check out a nifty little site called the Online Danish Hymnbook – Den Danske Salmebog Online.  You can choose whether you want to be accompanied by a church organ or piano!

Okay, clear your throats and get ready to stand up and sing! Or do as the Danes do in church…and sit down and sing? ;) (Stand up, Sit down, Sing along!)

Et barn er født i Betlehem

Mel.: 15. årh. / Lossius 1553
Tysk visemelodi omkring 1600 / A.P. Berggreen 1849

1

Et barn er født i Betlehem,
thi glæde sig Jerusalem!
Halleluja, halleluja!

2

En fattig jomfru sad i løn
og fødte Himlens kongesøn.
Halleluja, halleluja!

3

Han lagdes i et krybberum,
Guds engle sang med fryd derom:
Halleluja, halleluja!

4

Og Østens vise ofred der
guld, røgelse og myrra skær.
Halleluja, halleluja!

5

Forvunden er nu al vor nød,
os er i dag en frelser fød.
Halleluja, halleluja!

6

Guds kære børn vi blev på ny,
skal holde jul i Himmel-by.
Halleluja, halleluja!

7

På stjernetæpper lyseblå
skal glade vi til kirke gå.
Halleluja, halleluja!

8

Guds engle der os lære brat
at synge, som de sang i nat:
Halleluja, halleluja!

9

Da vorde engle vi som de,
Guds milde ansigt skal vi se.
Halleluja, halleluja!

10

Ham være pris til evig tid
for frelser bold og broder blid!
Halleluja, halleluja!

Latin 14. årh. Tysk 1545. Dansk 1544. 1569.
N.F.S. Grundtvig 1820 og 1845.

* * * * * *

Amen!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 8 December (MC Einar and shopping)

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

8 DECEMBER

How are you doing with your gift shopping?  Everything bought, wrapped and tagged?  I have!  Well, almost…only a few more pressies to wrap, and then I can finally put away all this wrapping paper, ribbon and tape! :)

Are you enjoying all the Christmas sights and sounds?

Do the shop windows fill you with awe?  I am a sucker for anything silver!  (Gold Christmas decorations, go home!)

The above window is from a little independent store called ‘Kirk’, which is filled to the gunnels with quirky nick nacks, whatever the season (Kompagnistræde 11, the street that runs parallel with Strøget).

IMAG1392

Or maybe the sight of those shop windows is giving you yuletide stress?!  Here’s one of my favourite Danish Christmas songs which – ho, ho, ho – mentions the stress of Christmas shopping in Magasin – one of Denmark’s oldest department stores (now, sadly, owned by the British chainstore Debenhams).

MC Einar‘s rap song “Jul, det’ cool!” (‘Yule, it’s cool’) is not only catchy but absolutely spot on with its lyrics! ;)

“….It’s Christmas, it’s cool, have a look around,
15,000 people in Magasin.
They have wet leather shoes, they have scarves on,
and they have coats, gift packs, lots they have to do;
but they’re enjoying themselves – of course they are!
plastic stars, plastic fir trees and plastic snow…”

Turns out that those crazy Danes love the song too…because it’s the third ’most played’ Christmas song in Denmark (after Chris Rea and Wham!).  (You can see what other songs are top of Julemanden‘s hitlist here.)  And now for our singalong…

.

“JUL, DET’ COOL” – MC EINAR

Det skete i de dage i november engang,
at de første kataloger satte hyggen i gang.

Det jul, det cool, det nu man hygger sig bedst.
Det er julebal i Nisseland, familiernes fest.
Med fornøjet glimt i øjet, trækker folk i vintertøjet,
til den årlige folkevandring op og ned af Strøjet.
Der bli’r handlet pakket ind, og der bli’r købt og solgt,
tøsne snot i næsen det er pissekoldt.
Det er vinter, man forventer vel lidt kulde og sne;
men det’ er da klart at så’n en sag kommer bag på DSB.
Intet vrøvl har de forsvoret, det de helt sikker på;
men ved den første rim på sporet går møllen i stå.
Folk de tripper, skælder ud, ser på deres ure,
og sparker efter invalide, ynkelige duer.
Der er intet man kan gøre og de sure buschauffører,
gør det svært at praktisere julehumøret.
“Gå så tilbage, for helvede,” råber stodderen hæst.
Men det jul, det cool, det nu man hygger sig bedst.

Det jul, det cool, graner lirekasser,
der er mænd, der sælger juletræer på alle åbne pladser.
12 bevægelige nisser og en sort mekanisk kat
i et vindue ud mod Strøjet trækker flere tusind watt.
Kulørte julegave pakker i kulørte juleposer,
selv i Bilka, Irma og alle landets Brugser,
er der ægte julestemning og gratis brunekager,
der er hylder fyldt med hygge, der er hygge på lager,
og hos damerne i Illum kan man få det som man vil,
“Kontant eller på konto, hr.? Skal prisen dækkes til?”
De smiler og er flinke, mest til fruerne i minker
og gi’r gode råd om alt fra sexet undertøj til sminker,
og vi andre fattig røve, vi kan gå i Dalle Valle,
der er damerne så flinke, at de smiler pænt til alle.
Der er masser tøj i kasser, der helt sikker passer.
Det jul, det cool, graner lirekasser.

Det jul, det cool, kig dig lidt omkring,
15.000 mennesker i Magasin.
De har våde lædersko, de har halstørklæder på,
og de har overfrakker, gave, pakker, masser de skal nå;
men de hygger sig selvfølgelig gør de det,
plastikstjerner, plastikgran og plastiksne.
Sætter stemning i systemer, det så nemt og nul problem,
og kød blot julestuens julesæt med fire fine cremer,
eller sukkerkrukker, pyntedukker, pænt mondænt og ganske smukt
og søde sæt proptrækker, glas og øloplukker.
Fra en skjult højtaler installation
“Et barn er født i Betlehem” i Hammodorgelversion,
vi traditionsbundne folk i traditionernes land,
så vi hygger os li’ så fint vi kan,
og særlig uundværlig det er Magasin.
Det jul, det cool, kig dig lidt omkring.

(Højtaler lyde, som slutter med “Jamen du godeste er det allerede”)
jul, det cool sikke tiden den går,
der er intet lavet om siden sidste år,
det de samme ting vi spiser ,det de samme ting vi laver,
det de samme ting i TV, det de samme julegaver,
samme penge problemer det dyrt og hårdt,
udelukkende overtrukne kontokort.
Overflod og fråds med familie og med venner,
samvittigheden klares med en Ulandskalender.
Det er julefrokost tid traditionsspilleri,
spritkørsel, utroskab og madsvineri,
vi har prøvet det før vi ved præcis hvad der sker,
slankekur i januar og alt det der,
det et slid; men der er lang tid til næste år.
Det jul, det cool sikke tiden den går.

Okay, it’s a (w)rap.  Hurry up and get your Christmas shopping done, then relax with a cup of something warm and soothing, like varm kakao and a couple of klejner.  (Or maybe some gløgg and æbleskiver?)

And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)